Koh Pich Death Toll Rises Along with Donation Totals

The government committee monitoring the casualty count from last Monday’s stampede on Diamond Bridge announced yesterday it had recorded four more deaths, bringing the death toll to 351.

After last week’s disaster, the government released varying death tolls later attributed to the monitoring from different sources: the body counts of Phnom Penh hospitals and provincial officials’ reports of missing persons.

As the death toll ticked upwards, domestic and foreign donations for victims families and the injured continued rising, with the total amount of charitable donations topping $4 million.

“The death toll increased by four victims, two of whom died from critical injuries and two of whom died in their families’ hands at the scene and were only later reported,” read the statement signed by Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng, chairman of the casualties committee, which put the number of injured at 395, down from 443 on Thursday.

Mr Sam Heng was forced to issue a statement on Thursday retracting public comments he made the night before that placed the death toll at 456. In his Thursday statement, he claimed 456 represented the number of missing people reported by provincial officials.

“I don’t have a figure for missing people but I would not think there were many because the victims were crushed together all in one place,” Ross Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday, adding that he believed that most of the injured remaining in hospitals had suffered from both internal injuries and from emotional trauma.

Health professionals treating patients from the disaster worried last week that internal injuries could be slow to appear, causing people who were apparently only slightly hurt later to develop spinal cord injuries or kidney failure.

Pum Chantithie, secretary-general of the Cambodian Red Cross said yesterday that she believed all the dead and injured had been accounted for and that the CRC was beginning to give victims money.

“We are already distributing the money we collected,” said Ms Chantithie, who did not know how much her organization had collected so far.

Other organizations distributing funds or donating them to victims include Bayon TV and CTN, which collected roughly $1.2 million and $850,000 respectively during telethons last week according to executives, and the government of China, which gave $500,000 to be distributed by the casualties committee.

“These people suffered and these people died, so we gave this cash to help their families,” Chinese Embassy spokesman Qian Hai said yesterday.

With the addition of the funds donated by the governments of Vietnam, France, and Ho Chi Minh City and the compensation being offered by the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation, which operates Koh Pich, the families of the deceased could each receive up to $12,250 with the final total depending on the amounts allocated to the injured.


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